History of the Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom has sure changed a lot over the years. In 2011, 17 million guests visited the park, making it the most popular them park in the world. But no matter how many attractions, shows, prices, or visitors have been added, removed, or changed over time, the spirit of the park has remained absolutely enchanting. It truly is the most magical place on earth.

Magic Kingdom is ever evolving, and it’s history is very interesting indeed – so much has changed! Even the name of Walt Disney World has changed from simply “Disney World” and originally the stealthy title “The Florida Project.”

The Past

The History of the Magic Kingdom starts as it was the first park at Walt Disney World, and opened on October 1, 1971. Although Uncle Walt never got to see the finished product of his many year of planning, Dad thinks he would be proud of how it turned out and how it’s changed and grown over the past 30 years.

The Magic Kingdom attractions have changed over the years, some of them many times. Nowadays there are 41 attractions, but on Opening Day there were merely 23 (20 inspired by Disneyland attractions and 3 completely new adventures). The park opened with six lands.

Let’s take a moment to look back on some of Dad’s favorite Magic Kingdom memories.

The Mountains

Today, Dad couldn’t imagine the Magic Kingdom without it’s familiar mountain range, but each of those magical hills sprung up over the years. Space Mountain began to launch guests into the stars in 1975, Big Thunder Mountain debuted it’s runaway mine train in 1980, and Splash Mountain started singing zip-a-Dee-doo-dah in 1993.

Main Street

On Main Street, U.S.A., you can count on one change to frequently change: the parades! Dozens of daytime, evening, and holiday parades have made their way up and down this street since 1971. And once upon a time the Main Street Penny Arcade was full of vintage arcade games and moving picture machines!

Do you know those beautiful canals circling the central hub that lead to Adventureland? From 1973-1983, those were the homes of the Swan Boats, providing guests with a relaxing little ride past Cinderella Castle.


The History of the Magic Kingdom in Adventureland begins with the original Enchanted Tiki Room. A few years ago the original show Uncle Walt himself designed was replaced by the “Under New Management” version, but now it’s back to a shortened version of the original.


Frontierland’s Country Bear Jamboree has featured a few alternate versions of the show, including the Country Bears Christmas Special (a real treat!) and Country Bears Vacation Hoedown. The Rivers of America used to be a bustling thoroughfare when the Davey Crockett Explorer Canoes and Mike Fink Keel Boats ran alongside the Liberty Belle and the Rafts to Tom Sawyer Island.

Liberty Square

Liberty Square is a land unique to the Magic Kingdom and is a patriotic tribute to our nation. It has a replica of the Liberty Bell which is the only bell ever cast from the mold of the actual Liberty Bell – neat, huh?

Less patriotic but more spooky are some of the changes to the Haunted Mansion – like the new interactive queue. The original bride in the attic scene has been replaced with a new (ironically) less scary version.


Fantasyland has undergone some of the biggest changes during the History of the Magic Kingdom. Now defunct attractions like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Legend of the Lion King, and both the original and revamped versions of Snow White’s Scary Adventures are long gone.

In 1988, an expansion off the side of Fantasyland was added to celebrate the 60th birthday of everyone’s favorite mouse. Mickey’s Birthdayland was so popular that it became Mickey’s Starland, then Mickey’s Toontown Fair.

Now that portion of land has been absorbed into the footprint of New Fantasyland as Storybook Circus, which includes the first major update to Dumbo the Flying Elephant – the addition of a second spinner! Speaking of New Fantasyland, there are almost too many new changes to name! Good thing Dad has a whole page dedicated to New Fantasyland!


One attraction Dad is sure that has gone into the History of the Magic Kingdom is the Skyway to Fantasyland/Skyway to Tomorrowland. Viewing the Magic Kingdom from above was a truly magical experience. Too bad it’s no longer in operation.

Tomorrowland opened in 1971 and wasn’t finished until 1975, when it was a white-washed, art deco vision of the future.In 1994 Tomorrowland was modernized with deeper blue and purple metallic colors and elements to make it look like a futuristic spaceport. A host of attraction changes and updates accompanied the Tomorrowland upgrade.

Tomorrowland today is missing some of Dad’s favorite past attractions, like Delta Dreamflight, Flight to the Moon, Mission to Mars, The Timekeeper, and a host of circlevision productions.


Tickets have undergone their fair share of changes too – would you believe that in 1971 you could get an admission ticket to the park for only $3.50 (or $4.75 for admission and 7 adventure tickets, or $5.75 for admission and 11 adventure tickets – this was back in the day of the ABCDE ticket books). And parking was just 50 cents a day!